By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Sarah Appold’s favorite pitch really depends on the day – and the various options she’s honed during a record-setting career at Saginaw Valley Lutheran.
Of course, there is the old stand-by fastball. The Chargers’ senior also can go change-up. She has a dangerous drop ball. But if she absolutely needs a swing and a miss, it’s got to be the rise.
“I just like the way I can kinda play games with it,” Appold said.
She’s won more than most seniors in Michigan this school year.
Appold is, without question, one of the most impressive all-around athletes in the state's class of 2012. A Second Half High 5 recipient this week, she made the Class C all-state second team in volleyball during the fall and then The Associated Press’ Class C all-state basketball team in the winter.
But softball has always been her number one – Appold holds multiple strikeout records at Valley Lutheran and has signed to pitch next for Saginaw Valley State.
“I played a lot of first base (growing up). But I liked being in control, playing all the time,” Appold said of pitching. “I like being able to be part of every single play. It’s just like playing a game every single time someone is up to bat.”
A decade ago, when second-grader Sarah decided she wanted to give pitching a try, her dad Randy – himself a fastpitch thrower – built her a pitching mound in the backyard.
It clearly got some use.
She set the Chargers’ single-season strikeout record of 272 as a sophomore – made more impressive by the fact she’s shared pitching duties all of her four varsity seasons and threw only 138 innings that season. She’s in the MHSAA record book three times for striking out at least 14 batters in one game, with her 15 in a 2010 contest tied for fifth on the list.
But the number that really pops is the school record she set last season for strikeouts per inning – 2.06.
This spring she’s faced 57 batters and struck out 36 in starting 2-0. She hasn’t given up an earned run and has allowed just five hits and walked four. Opponents are batting a mere .098 against her.
“Just being around her, and seeing her attitude, it’s hard to describe,” Valley Lutheran coach John Mueller said. “Because for all four years, watching her on the mound, she could strike somebody out or give up a hit, and you’d never see a change in her facial expression. She’ll get a couple of runners on base and it’s no big deal. She’s not so worried.”
He saw that confidence emerge especially last season. And her presence allows for her teammates – who together are ranked No. 5 in Division 3 – to remain confident even if they don’t make an offensive dent the first time through the line-up.
Appold also struck out 14 on Saturday as she and teammate Kelsey Schaus both threw no-hitters in a sweep of Flint Southwestern. Appold is joined by another four-year varsity player in Kara Englehardt among a group that Mueller said has shown exceptional work ethic across all sports over the last few years – and no doubt is working toward improving on last season’s finish in the Regional Final, a 7-5 loss to Sanford Meridian.
Appold also played four seasons of varsity volleyball and three on the basketball team. One more run would be a fitting end to an impressive softball career and incredible senior year as a whole.
“I guess I was a little shy coming in when I came in as a freshman. But I had juniors and seniors on the team who helped me settle down,” Appold said. “I definitely feel a lot older. And as you get older, there’s not a pressure, but a feeling of being almost done – and wanting to end the season winning the last game.”
Click for more on Appold and the rest of this week's High 5s.
PHOTOS: Saginaw Valley Lutheran Sarah Appold helped her team to last season's Division 3 Regional Final, playing both first base and pitching in the tournament.
The MHSAA and Holly school communities are grieving this week after the sudden loss of Tony Coggins, a shining light in his educational community and an enthusiastic supporter of school sports as a public address announcer for several of our largest championship events.
But while that cheerful tone has been quieted, it surely will not be forgotten by the many fortunate to enjoy an event in the presence of that voice and the joyfulness he brought into every arena, press box and classroom.
Coggins, 51, died Saturday. He is survived by his wife Kristy and children Emma and Bradlee, among several family and friends from his local and greater sports communities.
His career as a PA announcer began during his freshman year of high school in 1985, when his father Dale Coggins – Flushing’s athletic director at the time – couldn’t find anyone else to announce middle school football games. That was 39 years ago, and this fall Tony Coggins was in his 24th announcing at Holly, where he taught and served as an administrator in addition to his role as “Voice of the Holly Bronchos” for football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, competitive cheer and swimming & diving over the years.
Coggins has been a mainstay among MHSAA Finals PA announcers over the last decade in football, basketball, softball and most recently volleyball. He lent his voice to college sports at University of Michigan as well. “Tony was a huge part of our Finals events. It’s hard to imagine it being the same without him,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said.
As part of the run-up to the MHSAA public address announcers clinic in 2018, Coggins said this about what drew him to the microphone:
“I have zero athletic ability whatsoever, which is interesting because my father was an all-state running back. But I enjoy being involved, and I've always been the one for history and statistics and knowing what's going on,” Coggins said. “This is a way for me to be involved. It's a way for me to use a talent I've been given; public speaking has always come pretty naturally for me.
“So I worked at my craft to get better. I got better from watching the people around me, from studying the people I like, and the people – if I saw someone I didn’t care for – I'd make a note and say to myself, ‘Don't do that.’ I take feedback from people very personally, and I mean that in a good way. If somebody takes the time to come up and say, ‘You did this well; I think you should change this,’ that means they care about the program also. We all have the same goal in mind, and that's to make the experience good for the high school student and the parents, the fans, that come there.”
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at St. John Vianney, 2415 Bagley Street in Flint. There will be visitation from 2-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at the Swartz Funeral Home, 1225 West Hill Road, and at the church from 10 a.m. Saturday until the time of the Mass.
The Holly volleyball team played for something bigger tonight
Beloved PA announcer Anthony Coggins died on Friday night from a heart attack
— Brandon Green🍀 (@BGreenReports) October 24, 2023